SPONSORED: The staff at the new Coles store in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia are almost 14 per cent Indigenous, and with a strong focus on culture and community, the new store opened recently with a Smoking Ceremony and bush tucker tasting, including honey ants, damper and native jams.

Of the 23 Indigenous staff in the 170-strong store, eight were graduates of Coles’ pre-employment program and have been employed on a permanent part-time basis.

The supermarket giant delivered the pre-employment program in partnership with the Australian Indigenous Business Alliance Group and is now partnering with Midwest Employment and Economic Development Aboriginal Corporation to provide six months of post-placement mentoring support.

Coles has delivered more than 50 Indigenous pre-employment programs across the country, with a focus on remote and regional locations since 2011.

Coles pre-employment program graduates. Photo supplied.

The new Kalgoorlie store also saw two brand new art murals from Indigenous artists.

Seven Sisters Dreaming and Countryside at Springtime was a collaboration between artists Kgukgi Catherine Howard Noble and Edith Wallam Noble (Seven Sisters Dreaming) and Buodoon Edie Ulrich, Geegoo Danny Ulrich and Gnarool Marjorie Stubbs (Countryside at Springtime).

The art tells the story of the Seven Sisters, who travelled to earth from the spirit world during the Dreamtime to make the land more beautiful. The sisters journeyed to each waterhole and learned from the Elders how to care for Country and each other. They then went back to their Ancestors and Creator.

Kgukgi Catherine Howard Noble and Buodoon Edie Ulrich in front of the mural they created with fellow artists. Photo supplied.

The mural also represents Country at Springtime, when the dry dusty Country transforms into a rainbow of colour with blooming wildflowers and everlastings.

The second mural, Tjirla and Kalunng (Snake and Goanna), from artists Tjubriin Valma Wicker-Schultz, Meelmeel James Schultz, Darius Wicker, Naomi Schultz and Tayunnah Schultz, represents a Ngadju family Dreaming.

It tells the story of how the Tjirla came to eat the Kalunng’s eggs, and the Kalunng gets bitten by the Tjirla while defending its nest. The Kalunng must heal itself by eating a particular bush medicine leaf to heal itself. The healing leaves were sent by the Creator and grow in the bush in the surrounding area.

The new store’s murals were also accompanied by Coles vans printed with Indigenous art and branding. The Ngadju Dancers also performed traditional dancing for the supermarket’s official opening.

“The Coles Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander plan focuses on employment and community engagement as key outcomes, as it is important to Coles that we represent and reflect the communities where we operate,” said Coles Indigenous Engagement Advisor, Marty Taylor.

“I’d like to congratulate our newly appointed team members on their amazing achievement and thank the highly skilled artists, on both stunning murals.”

Recognised as Australia’s largest corporate sector employer of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Coles has an Indigenous workforce of more than 4,900 people. By 2023, they hope to have increased that representation to five per cent of the total Coles workforce.